Gardens of the Moon follows a multitude of players on both sides of a continent-spanning war involving magical floating cities, demons, the ancient un...moreGardens of the Moon follows a multitude of players on both sides of a continent-spanning war involving magical floating cities, demons, the ancient undead, god-possessed young women, and good old thieves, assassins, and kooky mages.
Before reading this first novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, I heard that most people didn't even really get a good grasp on what was going on until two-thirds of the way through the book. I'll concur with that. Erikson throws you right in, providing very little explanation. This requires being a smart reader, really paying attention, and taking mental notes (and probably rereading the book a few times down the road).
The novel is rich with hidden meaning and foreshadowing of things to come, the complicated plot is intricately and masterfully interwoven, and the world of Malazan et al is made flesh to the most minute detail. A perfect example of world-building at its best. And Erikson pulls no punches in his language usage either. I think I learned more new words in this one novel than in a year's worth of other books.
I wasn't really drawn to any of the characters (except perhaps Paran) until we reached Darujhistan in Book 2, which introduced a bevy of new and very likable characters. It also revealed new sides to previously introduced characters, like the Bridgeburners, endearing me to them as well. I loved cheering for both sides equally.
My only other qualm was with the relationship between Paran and Tattersail. Their moment of intimacy was so awkwardly written (with no proper tension to speak of), it was almost embarrassing to read. Though, thankfully, brief.(less)
The second installment in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Deadhouse Gates leaves behind almost all the characters we've come to know from Garde...moreThe second installment in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Deadhouse Gates leaves behind almost all the characters we've come to know from Gardens of the Moon (except Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus, and Apsalar) and transports us away from Genebackis to the continent of the Seven Cities, where rebellion is looming and a savage war is about to ignite.
The beginning of Deadhouse Gates felt a bit deflating, when I realized that I would be learning about--and having to remember--almost a whole new cast of characters than from the previous book. But these new characters are just as engaging as the last, and I found myself immediately hooked into the new setting, people, plans, and looming problems.
These novels are not works that you can breeze through. Rather, they engage your mind and make you work to catch on to subtle inferences and keep track of complicated motivations, action, a handful of POV characters, and a vast geography. But the work is well worth it. Deadhouse Gates is sophisticated, smart, and crazy-complex. The battle scenes are stunning (though gut wrenching). And Erikson pulls no punches in his depictions of the brutality of war and the scarring effects such violence has on the soul.(less)
I enjoyed Memories of Ice not quite as much as the first two installments in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This third book retur...moreI enjoyed Memories of Ice not quite as much as the first two installments in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This third book returns to the Bridgeburners on the continent of Genebackis as they join forces with Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake to fight the rising armies of the Pannion Domin.
If you are wondering if this series is really for you, this is probably where you'll stop. Very militarily oriented (although less so than Deadhouse Gates), and brutal in its depictions of the violence of war, Erikson adds one more layer of disturbing into this third novel with the Pannion Domin's army of Tenescowri--the starving peasant class of his conquered lands who have taken to cannibalism to survive, eating the survivors of each new conquered city--and the Children of the Dead Seed--children born to women of the Tenescowri after they rape the bodies of freshly dead soldiers in battle. (Yep. For real.)
People say this is a major setup book that essentially sets up the main conflict for the rest of the series. Generally, I find setup or transition books are often lacking in something essential to making them good books all on their own, and Memories of Ice was no exception. So much time and energy was spent on the setup for the series that the actual plot of Memories came off as rather lackluster. The elaborate plot was very weak compared to the previous two books. It was like Erikson was building a wall--building, building--but then when he got to the climax he ran out of bricks, so he frantically slathered on as much mortar as he had could to cover up the gaping holes in his structure. It looks like a solid wall, but it's really not solid at all. In his writing, this came across as a lot of vague, internal dialogue and ambiguous, insubstantial action sequences. In the climax! What solid action there was was great, I just wish Erikson could have skipped the mortar and laid on a few more bricks.(less)
The film adaptation of this book is one of my favorites, and for me the book didn't even come close to as good. Ondaatje's writing is so flowery and v...moreThe film adaptation of this book is one of my favorites, and for me the book didn't even come close to as good. Ondaatje's writing is so flowery and vague, and he relies heavily on summary narrative where you're rarely reading a moment-by-moment scene. All this prevented me from being able to feel connected to or sympathetic with any of the characters. There was way too much about Kip and his bomb disarming, and way too little of the developing relationship between the English patient and his lady love. There are also a lot of jumps back and forth through time and between point of view characters, making this a very confusing book to listen to in audio. I wouldn't recommend that format at all.(less)